Explore Western Spain Through These Fantastic Wineries
To kick off your sortie into Spanish wine, it's best to start with the essential need-to-know varieties and styles. For the west of Spain, this means exploring Galicia to Rioja and wines like Albariño, Godello, and Tempranillo.
We'll take a look at a few timeless wineries who excel at producing first-rate examples of these classic wines.
Don Pedro de Soutomaior
Named for a Galician knight of yore, Don Pedro de Soutomaior is an award-winning Albariño brought to you courtesy of Adegas Galegas. The wine is an homage to Galicia and its rich heritage. It's a fitting tribute to all things Galician; this is Albariño at its best. Intense yet balanced, exploding with tree blossoms and white flowers, white nectarine, lemon, and green apples. The classic minerality and saline character is definitely there, plus a pleasing mild effervescence which makes Don Pedro a must for fresh oysters. The grapes destined for Don Pedro are grown in Adegas Galegas' vineyards in the Condado do Tea subregion of Rias Baixas. It's slightly warmer here, which means you can except delightfully ripe, expressive Albariños – a perfect introduction to this marvellous grape.
This family-owned gem is in the heart of Valdeorras in the verdant Galician countryside. The winery boasts some of the oldest Godello plantings in the entire region and these old vines lend profound complexity to Valdesil's wines. It's a labour of love – the grapes are harvested by hand as the vineyard's landscape is challenging enough that machines are rendered inoperable. Valdesil offers several different interpretations of the Godello grape: a young, vibrant bottling, the classic, a barrel fermented version, and two single vineyard expressions. It's a real treat tasting how Godello transforms between vineyards and how its profile changes depending on how it's treated. Godello may be their flagship wine, but the Prada family also bottles a delicious Mencia and dabbles in other rarer local red varieties.
Part of the Bodegas Olarra Group, which is responsible for some of the most wonderful, expressive Riojas around, Bodegas Ondarre takes a more modern approach to Rioja. Where old-school traditional Rioja and the Tempranillo grape tends to stick with ageing wines in American oak, which imparts coconut, dill, and sweet vanilla aromas and flavours, the winemakers at Bodegas Ondarre use a mix of French and American oak. The addition of French oak means subtle oak spice and supple oak tannins. The estate is just outside Logroño, home to some of the best Riojas around. Bodegas Ondarre is also behind the highly acclaimed Ursa Maior while Bodegas Olarra makes Cerro Anon, Añares, and Erudito, all worth checking out if you're a dedicated Rioja drinker or have been a long time Cabernet Sauvignon drinker in search for something new.
Let these wineries and their dynamic – and delicious wines, be your introduction to the wines of western Spain. While they serve as brilliant starting off points, don't be deceived. There's nothing basic about their flavour or complexity. Don't be surprised if they become fixtures on your wine rack!